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The Gold Plates


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This is a question for the non-believers.  Do you think Joseph Smith had tangible metal plates of some kind or something that looked like metal plates?  Or do you think the plates were completely imaginary?  
 

I’m curious to know if there is any consensus among critics on this matter.

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6 hours ago, Rivers said:

This is a question for the non-believers.  Do you think Joseph Smith had tangible metal plates of some kind or something that looked like metal plates?  Or do you think the plates were completely imaginary?  
 

I’m curious to know if there is any consensus among critics on this matter.

I believe he had the capability to make them from their coppersmith (?) outbuilding. And that is why he didn't want anyone to see them. They could fill them inside of something though. 

 

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38 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I believe he had the capability to make them from their coppersmith (?) outbuilding. And that is why he didn't want anyone to see them. They could fill them inside of something though. 

 

The Lord commanded him to not allow anyone to see them except for the witnesses who did see them and testified that the golden plates were not only real but that all the pages were engraved with what appeared to be curious looking ancient writing. Boy that young semi-literate Joseph Smith was something else! He was not only able to somehow produce hundreds of leafs of metallic pages filled with ancient looking writing, but was also able to produce a 516 page ancient sounding religious book of such mind boggling complexity, flawless internal consistency and extremely profound doctrinal content centered on the Lord Jesus Christ! That guy just has to be the greatest hoaxer of all time!  And despite his deceitful nature he was a very hard worker too!

Edited by teddyaware
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2 hours ago, teddyaware said:

The Lord commanded him to not allow anyone to see them except for the witnesses who did see them and testified that the golden plates were not only real but that all the pages were engraved with what appeared to be curious looking ancient writing. Boy that young semi-literate Joseph Smith was something else! He was not only able to somehow produce hundreds of leafs of metallic pages filled with ancient looking writing, but was also able to produce a 516 page ancient sounding religious book of such mind boggling complexity, flawless internal consistency and extremely profound doctrinal content centered on the Lord Jesus Christ! That guy just has to be the greatest hoaxer of all time!  And despite his deceitful nature he was a very hard worker too!

Maybe he used it as a tool to help those that felt it believe in it more, since he had the seerstone in the hat and used it instead of the plates. Maybe he thought it would be okay to provide a physical object to help their faith. He did write the Happiness Letter that said in one instance it could be wrong, and in another it could be the right thing to do. 

Besides how in the world can all those words be chiseled on gold plates, it doesn't seem possible to me. But I may be proven wrong, here's information how it possibly could. 

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/is-the-book-of-mormon-like-other-ancient-metal-documents

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2 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Maybe he used it as a tool to help those that felt it believe in it more, since he had the seerstone in the hat and used it instead of the plates. Maybe he thought it would be okay to provide a physical object to help their faith. He did write the Happiness Letter that said in one instance it could be wrong, and in another it could be the right thing to do. 

Besides how in the world can all those words be chiseled on gold plates, it doesn't seem possible to me. But I may be proven wrong, here's information how it possibly could. 

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/is-the-book-of-mormon-like-other-ancient-metal-documents

James Strang had plates, so why not Joseph Smith? Again, it really doesn't add to the claims of the Book of Mormon whether he had plates or not. 

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11 hours ago, Rivers said:

This is a question for the non-believers.  Do you think Joseph Smith had tangible metal plates of some kind or something that looked like metal plates?  Or do you think the plates were completely imaginary?  
 

I’m curious to know if there is any consensus among critics on this matter.

I doubt he had plates. I do think he had a manuscript, though and that’s what he was concealing. 

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Just now, Bernard Gui said:

Which was the copycat?

Some have proposed they were tin plates, but tin sheets do not rustle like paper when you rub your thumb across them, do not have the appearance of gold, are not easy to engrave. Copper is shiny and can be made into sheets. It is not gold colored. It can be engraved, but the process is tedious. Copper oxidizes and turns green. The Smiths were coopers, but that means barrel makers, not copper workers. It’s likely witness of the plates would recognize tin or copper on sight. The effort to engrave any metal sheets in the quantity suggested by the BoM plates would be daunting. 
 

If he had gold plates, that would positively add to his claims. 

Only to the witnesses, presuming they really did see them and believe them to be ancient. 

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17 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Only to the witnesses, presuming they really did see them and believe them to be ancient. 

Or to someone who is open to the possibilities. Of course the fact that there were plates does not prove the Book of Mormon is true, but it should be given serious consideration. Their presence needs to be accounted for.

None of the many witness ever called the plates a hoax. Even those who were eventually disaffected.

What is you candidate for the substance of the plates?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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8 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Or to someone who is open to the possibilities. Of course fact that there were plates does not prove the Book of Mormon is true, but it should be given serious consideration.

None of the many witness ever called the plates a hoax. Even those who were disaffected.

What is you candidate for the substance of the plates?

What do you mean by my candidate for the substance of the plates? As I said earlier, I have no idea if there were plates or not. I don't think it makes a difference as to the truth of the Book of Mormon, whether or not one is open to the possibilities. 

Edited by jkwilliams
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Just now, jkwilliams said:

What do mean by my candidate for the substance of the plates? As I said earlier, I have no idea if there were plates or not. I don't think it makes a difference as to the truth of the Book of Mormon, whether or not one is open to the possibilities. 

There were plates whether you have an idea or not. 

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2 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

There were plates whether you have an idea or not. 

Why do you say that? You believe the testimony of the witnesses. I don't know whether or not I should believe them. Again, doesn't matter much. 

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2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

James Strang had plates, so why not Joseph Smith? Again, it really doesn't add to the claims of the Book of Mormon whether he had plates or not. 

James Strang's plates are not in the same ballpark as Joseph Smith's plates.  Joseph's plates are an oddity.  I believe they are bigger by a fair margin than any other set of ancient plates.  If he manufactured them, he went all out on the process.  I think someone did some estimating on how much money it would take to produce the set of plates using a cheap metal and it was still fairly costly.

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Just now, webbles said:

James Strang's plates are not in the same ballpark as Joseph Smith's plates.  Joseph's plates are an oddity.  I believe they are bigger by a fair margin than any other set of ancient plates.  If he manufactured them, he went all out on the process.  I think someone did some estimating on how much money it would take to produce the set of plates using a cheap metal and it was still fairly costly.

Hence my being unsure whether there were actually plates or not. Again, it really doesn't add anything to the credibility of the Book of Mormon. 

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6 hours ago, Tacenda said:

I believe he had the capability to make them from their coppersmith (?) outbuilding.

Could you point me to evidence/scholarship about this?  Joseph Smith's experience in working with copper?  What "outbuilding" are you referencing?

6 hours ago, Tacenda said:

And that is why he didn't want anyone to see them. They could fill them inside of something though. 

And yet many people did see them, including the Eight Witnesses (who saw them in mundane circumstances) and the Three Witnesses (who saw them in miraculous circumstances).

Per this article:

Quote

While none of the individual accounts related herein affirms single-handedly the certitude of Joseph’s having obtained a sacred record (let alone of translating it correctly), the multiple independently recorded experiences suggest with convincing evidence the existence of the tangible Book of Mormon plates and relics. Descriptions and witnesses of stone boxes from the Hill Cumorah, multiple persons who hefted the plates as they lay inside assorted wooden containers, and those who felt, traced, and outlined the shape of the plates and breastplate or Urim and Thummim through various cloth coverings—never mind the visible and tangible witness of the plates that would come from the eleven formal eyewitnesses of the Book of Mormon—indicate indisputable physicality with respect to the sacred record’s origin.

Moreover, Joseph Smith never explained the Book of Mormon as a purely spiritual production of a metaphorical people given to teach divine truths. Rather, he repeatedly and consistently declared that the Book of Mormon was an inspired translation done through the “gift, and power of God”[58] of a literal ancient record taken from a stone box from a nearby hill—actual plates created and recorded and preserved by historical prophets, physically entrusted to his care, that he really did hide, conceal, and protect, and that others really did have tangible experiences with.[59] The Lord has revealed that the translation of that record is true (see D&C 17:6). 

I think notions that there was no physical artifact answering to the general description of "gold plates" are incompatible with the historical record.

That does not eliminate the possibility of forgery/fabrication.  But that theory has problems of its own.  Did Joseph conspire with others in the fabrication?  If so, with whom?  And why did none of them after divulge the fraud?  And what evidence is there of such collusion?  Or did Joseph do this all by himself?  If so, when?  Is there evidence that he had skill in working with metal?  Where did he get the copper, and how did he pay for it (since according to Martin Harris, "Joseph had not credit enough to buy so much lead," and I assume copper was more valuable than lead at the time)?  And where did he get the skills to etch hieroglyphics onto the plates?  And so on.

Thanks,

-Smac

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This Interpreter article does a good job of summing up the various alternative hypotheses:

Quote

There are a lot of different ways the witnesses could’ve played out. For the sake of parsimony, rather than multiply various combinations of hypotheses, we’re going to focus on three: the hypothesis of authenticity, and the two main critical hypotheses we’ve already mentioned (i.e., conspiracy and deception).

The witnesses were reporting real experiences with an angel and with the plates—For this theory, both Moroni and the plates were real and fully authentic. The three witnesses saw both the plates and the angel, and the eight saw and handled the plates, exactly as they report in their testimonies. These plates wouldn’t have been pure gold (as they would’ve been too heavy), but is much more likely to have been a copper/gold alloy (which happens to have been conveniently used in ancient Mesoamerica).

The witnesses conspired with Joseph to concoct entirely fictional witness accounts—This theory posits that the events referred to in the witness accounts never took place at all—that Joseph never took any of the witnesses into the woods, and they never saw or even thought they saw, either plates or angels. Under this scenario, the witnesses would’ve simply been lying through their teeth repeatedly for decades.

The witnesses believed they saw angels and plates, but were really victims of fraud by Joseph—In this case, Joseph would have had to have found some way to convincingly fool these eleven witnesses. Again, to keep it simple, we’re going to assume that Joseph was able to do two things to pull off his ambitious fraud: 1) make a set of fake plates to fool the eight, and 2) hypnotize the three witnesses into believing that they saw an angel.

There is another possibility that I think is worth discussing here. Isn’t it possible that the witnesses were merely mistaken about what they saw? That their testimonies are genuine but also genuinely untrustworthy, as is the case for a lot of eyewitness testimony? In short, no. It’s true that we shouldn’t put blind trust in eyewitnesses, but that doesn’t mean we get to ignore anything eyewitnesses say. There are specific factors that can make eyewitness testimony unreliable, stuff like ambiguous stimuli, physical distance, high levels of emotion and anxiety, time pressure, and leading questions. None of that applies to a bunch of guys walking into the forest in broad daylight and leisurely handling a solid material object. It also doesn’t apply to being spoken to directly by a divine messenger clothed in holy light. Either they were lying or there was some sort of convincing and stupendous deception, but there isn’t any room for them to be simply mistaken.

Thanks,

-Smac

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A consensus of the critics is probably almost as hard to find as a consensus from believers.

My sense is that the critics see so many problems with the Book of Mormon historicity that whether or not Joseph had a prop or not, is irrelevant.

Eyewitness testimony from two hundred years ago does not seem to be convincing very many people.

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57 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Could you point me to evidence/scholarship about this?  Joseph Smith's experience in working with copper?  What "outbuilding" are you referencing?

And yet many people did see them, including the Eight Witnesses (who saw them in mundane circumstances) and the Three Witnesses (who saw them in miraculous circumstances).

 

https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/content/historic-sites/palmyra/sacred-grove?lang=eng

The Smiths used oak for making barrels and other wood for making household and farm implements

ETA: I made the mistake of saying coppersmith, mean't coopersmith, but made another mistake! They weren't making copper, but barrels! My bad! 

Also, I saw this in wiki and it kind of boggles my mind a little bit, wouldn't you want non related witnesses?

All the witnesses were family, close friends, or financial backers of Joseph Smith. Cowdery, Page, and the five Whitmers were related by marriage.[13]

 

Edited by Tacenda
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2 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

 

https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/content/historic-sites/palmyra/sacred-grove?lang=eng

The Smiths used oak for making barrels and other wood for making household and farm implements

ETA: I made the mistake of saying coppersmith, mean't coopersmith. 

Also, I saw this in wiki and it kind of boggles my mind a little bit, wouldn't you want non related witnesses?

All the witnesses were family, close friends, or financial backers of Joseph Smith. Cowdery, Page, and the five Whitmers were related by marriage.[13]

 

Why do you think making barrels would teach Joseph how to make plates and engrave them?

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Just now, Calm said:

Why do you think making barrels would teach Joseph how to make plates and engrave them?

I just commented to Smac, so you could read that. It wasn't the barrel part it is the bands that hold the barrels together that made me think he'd have the metal to work with. 

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

I just commented to Smac, so you could read that. It wasn't the barrel part it is the bands that hold the barrels together that made me think he'd have the metal to work with. 

The hoops were usually made of wood or steel. I do not think the Smiths had the skills, facilities, or materials to make steel or iron hoops. A cooper probably didn’t work with metals. The sheet metal that was most available would be tin, but it was not the galvanized tin we use today. 

Back in the good old days on this board, Dan Vogel proposed tin as the most likely metal Joseph used to fabricate the plates. I researched tinsmithing . I even obtained some pure tin sheets and tried to duplicate the gold plates. As a result I concluded tin was not a viable candidate. I don’t think I convinced him, though.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

 

https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/content/historic-sites/palmyra/sacred-grove?lang=eng

The Smiths used oak for making barrels and other wood for making household and farm implements

ETA: I made the mistake of saying coppersmith, mean't coopersmith, but made another mistake! They weren't making copper, but barrels! My bad! 

Also, I saw this in wiki and it kind of boggles my mind a little bit, wouldn't you want non related witnesses?

All the witnesses were family, close friends, or financial backers of Joseph Smith. Cowdery, Page, and the five Whitmers were related by marriage.[13]

 

I’m reminded of what Mark Twain wrote:

Some people have to have a world of evidence before they can come anywhere in the neighborhood of believing anything; but for me, when a man tells me that he has "seen the engravings which are upon the plates," and not only that, but an angel was there at the time, and saw him see them, and probably took his receipt for it, I am very far on the road to conviction, no matter whether I ever heard of that man before or not, and even if I do not know the name of the angel, or his nationality either. … 

And when I am far on the road to conviction, and eight men, be they grammatical or otherwise, come forward and tell me that they have seen the plates too; and not only seen those plates but "hefted" them, I am convinced. I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified.

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39 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

The hoops were usually made of wood or steel. I do not think the Smiths had the skills, facilities, or materials to make steel or iron hoops. A cooper probably didn’t work with metals. The sheet metal that was most available would be tin, but it was not the galvanized tin we use today. 

Back in the good old days on this board, Dan Vogel proposed tin as the most likely metal Joseph used to fabricate the plates. I researched tinsmithing . I even obtained some pure tin sheets and tried to duplicate the gold plates. As a result I concluded tin was not a viable candidate. I don’t think I convinced him, though.

Speaking of Dan Vogel, I'm listening to this youtube with Vogel and a believer discussing the BoM. Just began it, because I saw it elsewhere. At 1:53 in, it mentions tin plates, on the timeline provided. 

ETA: Vogel mentions tin shingles used back then could have been used to make the plates. 

Edited by Tacenda
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37 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I’m reminded of what Mark Twain wrote:

Some people have to have a world of evidence before they can come anywhere in the neighborhood of believing anything; but for me, when a man tells me that he has "seen the engravings which are upon the plates," and not only that, but an angel was there at the time, and saw him see them, and probably took his receipt for it, I am very far on the road to conviction, no matter whether I ever heard of that man before or not, and even if I do not know the name of the angel, or his nationality either. … 

And when I am far on the road to conviction, and eight men, be they grammatical or otherwise, come forward and tell me that they have seen the plates too; and not only seen those plates but "hefted" them, I am convinced. I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified.

If Twain said it, it must be true.😬

On the other hand, there have been a whole lot of serious investigations of the various witnesses (not just the 11 in print). They hold up very well.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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